SANTA MONICA, Calif. — Honda announced it will begin leasing a small number of its new FCX Clarity hydrogen vehicles this summer. The low-emission vehicle is refueled using a high-pressure connector tucked behind a typical gas-cap door on the rear fender. It has a handsome exterior, a nice audio system and plenty of knee room in the back.
Honda has not announced who will get the FCX Claritys or how many will be available in Southern California, where their rollout program begins. Households will be selected, in part, for their ready access to hydrogen stations. Honda is realistic about the slow growth of a hydrogen infrastructure as well as the viewpoint that fuel cells may not seem to make much sense using current methods of hydrogen production.
But there are practical matters to consider as well: compared with alternatives like plug-in hybrids, the onboard energy supply is quicker to replenish and has a better travel range, 270 miles. Moreover, in Honda’s full-cycle calculation, a fuel-cell vehicle can reduce carbon dioxide output by half compared with a gasoline vehicle. In the United States, where much electricity is produced from coal, it is even better than a battery-electric car, Honda says.
According to the company, the performance is on par with a similar-size car powered by a 2.4-liter engine, such as the 2008 Accord LX’s.
While the FCX seems fully qualified for local duties, its practicality for longer trips will have to wait on the availability of hydrogen. In this latest version, the range is a reasonable 270 miles on a single refill of the 5,000 p.s.i. tank behind the rear seat. Most fuel-cell vehicles using compressed hydrogen are now built around 10,000 p.s.i. tanks for greater range.
Honda chose to take a different route, emphasizing efficiency over capacity. Honda calculates its hydrogen consumption as the equivalent of 68 miles a gallon.
SOURCE: New York Times